Ready to turbocharge your career? Download your free copy of the “3 Steps of Self-Mastery” Toolkit

Person standing in the street covered in a white sheet resembling a ghost costume

Have You Ghosted Your Hopes and Dreams?

My mother told me when I was about four years old, I would say, “If you’re going to do it, do it. If you’re not going to do it, don’t do it.” I’ve lived by those words ever since.

When you do, it can be hard to understand those who don’t—people who identify areas of their lives that leave them dissatisfied and disgruntled but seemingly have no interest in changing them. 

I recently had a conversation with a friend about this. Like me, she’s a “do it” kind of person while her partner is not. Because her partner is deeply unfulfilled by her work, my friend offered her a vision and a plan, including actionable steps that would enable her to make a change.

Then what happened? Well, nothing because her partner didn’t take any of those steps. She remains stuck in a maze of discontent, unable or unwilling to get on the path that will lead her out—even while she has the map in her hands.

I was attracted to my work as a coach because of my “do it” orientation and my distaste for being stuck in unsavory situations. I’m generally quick to action in those times, but I understand that it’s not always easy to see there’s a path out, so I help people find it and get moving towards the exit.  

What I didn’t anticipate when I embarked on this career was how many people I would encounter like my friend’s partner—wanting something different while being too attached to where they are. (Or too afraid to go where they haven’t been.)

But there is a difference between my friend’s situation and the ones I find myself in. She was offering support to her partner in response to the typical venting that happens over Sunday dinner or while taking the dog for a walk.

I meet people because they come looking for me. They declare they are ready to “do it,” and they see me as someone who might be able to help. Then we have a session where they gain clarity. They learn something about themselves they’ve never known—something that’s been holding them back. They discover where to focus their efforts, what hurdles to leap over, and what dead ends to avoid. They are newly energized and hopeful as we click the red “End Meeting” button in Zoom.  

And then I never hear from them again.

I am ghosted and being ghosted is not to be confused with being rejected. I welcome rejection because it takes agency to tell someone you don’t want to work with them.

When someone chooses not to hire me as their coach, I accept that it has something to do with me. Maybe they aren’t willing to pay my fee. Maybe they found someone who is a better fit. I’m not always sure why they don’t hire me, but I know one thing: They have made a self-respecting choice. They aren’t going to do it, so they tell me they’re not going to do it.

But there is no intentionality in ghosting, and if they ghost, it isn’t about me. They are ghosting their hopes and their desires. When they do, I remind myself to let go of both my expectations and my attachment to outcomes. My job was done when I clicked the red button. What’s next for that person is not in my control, and it’s not supposed to be.  

But there are a few things I’d like to say to the ghosters:

  1. There’s no shame in not being ready to do the hard work of transforming your life.
  2. Not being ready now doesn’t mean you won’t be ready later.
  3. If you aren’t ready later, that’s okay too.

It’s your life, and you have the right to live it your way. You don’t have to explain it to me or anyone.

The more we can accept where we are—and the less we care about what others think about that—the better the choices we can make for ourselves. But it is important to MAKE choices and to make them with intention.

If you’re not going to do it, don’t do it, but declare to yourself that you’re not going to do it. Choose it because making choices is empowering. It gives us a sense of agency in an uncertain world.

When it comes to pursuing your dreams, there is a time to do it, and there is a time not to do it, but you have to ask yourself this: Is there ever a good time for ghosting?

Recent Posts

Winning in the Shallow End

Winning in the Shallow End

Vince Lombardi famously said, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” I disagree. There are other things. Flooding Back A former colleague included me in the slate of candidates being considered to coach an employee in his organization. During the vetting...

Standing Up to the Bully in the Boardroom

Standing Up to the Bully in the Boardroom

It was 2002, not long after I’d lost my job following September 11th. It was a tough time to be out of work, so imagine my delight to get an offer about a month later. I was thrilled I wouldn’t need to spend the money from my severance package for living expenses....

What to Do When Your Client Hates You

What to Do When Your Client Hates You

The day after delivering a workshop to a corporate client, I received an email from my contact, “Let me know when you have time tomorrow to discuss yesterday’s presentation.” Twelve words. No friendly greeting. No cordial closing. I felt like I was being called to the...